In a major blow to Rahm Emanuel's pursuit to become mayor of Chicago, an Illinois appellate court panel ruled Monday that he does not meet residency requirements, ending months of speculation and heated debates.
The smoldering issue exploded after a panel determined 2 to 1 that Rahm Emanuel does not meet residency requirements for eligible candidates, according to the Chicago News Cooperative. The decision could lead to the election of the city's first black mayor in nearly two decades. Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun is in third place and is the consensus candidate for the city's black power brokers.
"We conclude that the candidate neither meets the municipal code's requirement that he has 'resided' in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement," the whole court wrote in its decision, according to the News Cooperative.
While Emanuel's attorneys vowed to fight the decision and appeal it to the Illinois Supreme Court, the Chicago Board of Elections will print ballots without his name for the February 22 vote. His lawyers filed papers late Monday with the Supreme court to grant a stay to permit Emanuel's name to be printed on the ballot. The Board of Elections is expected to respond by the end of the week, officials said.
Judges Shelvin Louise Marie Hall and Thomas Hoffman ruled that Emanuel does not meet requirements to represent Chicago as mayor. His lawyers tirelessly argued that he was exempt from residency requirements under a special election code provision designed for U.S. servicemen and women because of his work as White House chief of staff, a federal position. The code provides that those in the military can maintain their residency status as long as they are on federal business.
The panel disagreed.
The decision is being hailed as a victory for his competitors. Emanuel, whose election coffers are filled with four times the amount of money raised by any candidate, holds a commanding lead, polls show. But now, the lead respectively falls to City Clerk Miguel del Valle, Braun, Gery Chico, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William Walls.
Still, Emanuel remained upbeat as he campaigned at a downtown restaurant.
"I have no doubt that we will, in the end, prevail at this effort,'' Emanuel said, according to the News Cooperative. "As father always used to say, 'Nothing is ever easy in life.' This is just one turn in the road.''
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